It’s a quandary as old as time: Should you have sex with an ex?
Psychologist Dr Justin Lehmiller, who is conducting ongoing research into how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people’s intimate lives, has found that one in five people have recently reached out to their ex.
Interestingly, their most common reason for contact was to ensure their ex was safe and healthy, or to see how they were coping emotionally, rather than wanting to reconnect intimately.
However, if you’re currently unattached, and not in a lock-down state, the thought may cross your mind that it can’t hurt to check in on an old flame.
After all, chances are you were together for some time and who better to help you scratch that itch, than an ex-lover who knows you well, both inside and out? And it’s arguably safer to have consensual sex with an ex who you know and trust - lockdowns permitting (sorry Victoria!)
Of course, it’s a rare human in your inner friendship circle or family who’ll tell you sex with an ex is a good idea – society has conditioned us to view sex with an ex as shameful and serious. A crime equal to our government wilfully ignoring the catastrophic effects of global warming, for example.
Sex with an ex can lead to yet more heartbreak, confusion, despair and extreme self-loathing, says conventional wisdom. How are you ever going to meet your true match, or at least the next Mr or Ms Perfect-for-now, if you’re still pining over your idiot, old ex? And if they were so careless as to lose you as a partner – you’re fabulous – why would you give all your goodies right back to them?
And so, the sex-and-an-ex dilemma goes around and around. But never fear help is at hand … from science.
Yes, some sexy science boffins are here to tell us that actually, sex with an ex might not be as earth-shatteringly bad for us as we’ve all been led to believe. In fact, it might not be doing us *that* much harm at all.
The findings of a study in Springer’s journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, strongly suggest that having sex with an ex doesn’t hinder us from moving on after a break-up. This is true even for those who continue to pine for their ex, says lead author Stephanie Spielmann of Wayne State University in the US.
Spielmann and colleagues devised two studies – both involving 485 people, who were asked to share their post break-up experiences and how sex with an ex had affected their wellbeing.
The results? “This research suggests that societal handwringing regarding trying to have sex with an ex may not be warranted,” says Spielmann, who believes that the findings challenge common beliefs. “The fact that sex with an ex is found to be most eagerly pursued by those having difficulty moving on, suggests that we should perhaps instead more critically evaluate people’s motivations behind pursuing sex with an ex.”
Right on, researcher lady. Some important questions you might like to ask yourself, when trying to “pants” your ex, include: Why am I doing this? How will it make me feel afterwards? Will this adversely affect my mental health? What third parties are involved?
Real talk: Many of us do pursue sex with an ex – across all age groups and relationship types. It’s not the end of the world and can be even a fun, delightful and intimate way to farewell someone from our lives who was once very dear to us. A final goodbye fuck – an exorcism of sorts, if you will.
Years ago, I certainly found myself in this situation when a long-time flame and I had ended our relationship when it became irrevocably clear that we each wanted different things and there were no happy endings in sight – at least not outside the bedroom.
One final, crazed angry and emotional sex session and I was out the door. Did it make me want him back? Did I pine for him? Oh, hell no on both – the sex or strength of attraction were never problems in our relationship – if anything all our farewell fuck brought me was beautiful, sweet closure.
So, I say if you want to do the horizonal mambo with an ex and this action truly won’t hurt anyone (most of all you) – go for it. If a third party or children will be adversely affected by your dalliances (sometimes it’s hard to stop at one) – abort!
Selfish sex isn’t cool – adult honesty is. Be open and upfront with both yourself and your ex about your true intentions and you can’t go wrong. Sex with an ex does not mean you’re ever going to win them back – nor should you probably even want to. You split up for a good reason – or ten.
No one can tell you the right way to think or behave. If you’ve kept things nice and amicable enough with an ex, so that you can even consider having hot, consensual sex with them, I say bravo. Go get it!
Me? I’m a passionate, fire-and-brimstone kinda gal these days – I never shy away from lighting the match to watch that mofo bridge burn. There aren’t too many exes I could conceivably hook up with again, as a result (and I’m happily married). Besides, I much prefer to always look ahead, rather than look back. Don’t you?